It is estimated that more than a quarter of adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay. Untreated tooth decay and cavities can lead to a range of serious oral health issues, such as gum disease. 

If you have dental issues, your dentist may recommend either a dental crown or a filling. The best option for your teeth will depend on the specific case and the extent of damage that has occurred.

In this blog post, we will look at crown vs filling and highlight everything you need to know about both so that you can make an informed decision on which option is best for you. Let’s get started.

What Is a Filling?

tooth filling is an artificial substance that is used to fill in gaps or holes in the enamel of a damaged, broken or decayed tooth. When a filling is properly installed, it will help to stop decay from eating away at the tooth. A filling also helps to restore the tooth’s original shape and function.

Typically, a filling is used to prevent further damage when decay is present. During the procedure, the bacteria are removed and the affected area is closed off, meaning that no further decay is able to occur.

The process of getting a filling is simple. After the dentist has assessed the affected tooth or teeth and determined that a filling is necessary, a treatment session will be scheduled. A filling treatment will generally take between 30 minutes and 1 hour to complete.

Fillings can be made from different kinds of materials and the kind used will determine how will it be expected to last. Some of the common types of filling include:

  • Amalgam (average duration is 15 years)
  • Ceramic (average duration is 15 years)
  • Composite (average duration is 7 years)
  • Glass ionomer (average duration is 5 years)

The 2 most common options are amalgam and composite. Amalgam fillings have been used by dentists for more than 150 years and are the least expensive option. They contain a mixture of metals, such as silver, tin alloy particles, copper, and elemental mercury.

Another option is gold. This is a far more expensive option than either amalgam or composite restorations, though it is also more durable. Gold fillings have a lifespan of 20 years or more.

A person’s diet can affect how long their filing lasts. For example, biting down on nuts, hard candy, and ice can increase the wear and tear on fillings. Sticky foods and foods such as beef jerky and gum should also be avoided, as they can pull on a filling.

What Is a Dental Crown?

Whereas a filling is typically used for a tooth that has minimal damage, a crown may be the best option for a more that has extensive tooth decay. While a filling sits inside of a tooth, a crown is fitted onto the top of a damaged tooth.

You can think of a crown as a kind of snug hat that is placed over a tooth, offering protection as well as helping to restore its shape. When a regular filling is unable to solve a dental problem, a crown may be recommended.

A dental crown may be made from a range of different materials. These include metal, ceramic, zirconia, porcelain, and composite resin. It is also possible to opt for a combination of materials, such as a porcelain crown fused to metal.

There are also different types of crowns. For example, if a person is getting a permanent crown, they may first have a temporary crown fitted. This will be worn for a short amount of time (and won’t be as strong as a regular crown) while the permanent crown is being made.

Another option is a one-day crown, which avoids the need for a temporary crown to be worn. This is because the dentist will design and mill the crown there and then in the office. The entire process will only take 1 or 2 hours and a follow-up amount will not be required.

In some cases, a full crown may not be required. Instead, a person may be able to choose an onlay or 3/4 crown, this is a good option if only a portion of the tooth must be covered. With proper care, a dental crown can last for 15 years or more.

Should I Get a Filling or a Crown?

Your dentist will recommend either a cavity filling or a dental crown depending on the extent of tooth decay. As we have highlighted above, more serious cases of tooth decay are better treated with a dental crown compared to a filling.

For example, a filling may not offer sufficient protection over the long term. If a large portion of a tooth needs filling, the better option may be a dental crown.

Crown vs Filling: What’s the Difference? 

The bottom line is that both a tooth filling and a dental crown can be used to treat tooth decay. The best option for you will depend on the extent of the decay.

For dental crowns and fillings in Greensboro or Lake Jeanette, North Carolina, your premier choice is Carolina Smiles. We are available for a range of general, cosmetic, and family dental procedures and offer the highest standards of care to all of our patients. We are a proud member of the American Dental Association.

To learn more about crown vs filling and to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, simply contact us at (336) 286-5522 or click here.